SUNBEAM >> Ray of Love and Wisdom

0401 When a sunbeam passes through a prism of glass or salt or water or other transparent material, it is separated into elements of different qualities. Some of these elements  we see in the rainbow colors of the spectrum; others are invisible, but can be detected by suitable instruments. The sunbeam is separated in this way by being turned out of its direct course, some of its elements being more easily bent than others. Of the pencils of light which form the rainbow colors, the red is bent least and the violet most; the orange, yellow, green, and blue arranging themselves in order between the extremes according to their degrees of flexibility. But there is a pencil of invisible rays, which the thermometer shows to be rays of heat, which is turned from its course still less than the red, and makes an invisible extension of the spectrum, as of a color too red to be seen; and there is another portion of rays that is bent more than the violet and extends the spectrum invisibly at the other end—which rays affect the photographic plate and produce other chemical changes, on account of which they are often called “chemical rays.” The heat rays are very sensible beyond the red, but extend also perceptibly through the whole or nearly the whole visible spectrum. The chemical rays are not so well known, but it is enough for our present purpose to know that those which make the photograph are most intense in the pale violet region; that beyond these they are active, and, though ordinarily invisible, can be made visible by bodies that are phosphorescent or fluorescent; and that chemical effects are produced in other substances by the rays of other parts of the spectrum, those changes that are essential to vegetable growth taking place most rapidly in the yellow light.

All these effects of heat, light, and chemical power are produced by active motions of various kinds in the ether; the motions that produce any given effect being necessarily uniform and constant, though exceedingly complex and rapid. So uniform are the movements that produce light, that their size and rapidity can be exactly determined and are always the same in the same color. In the red color of the spectrum, it is said that 39,000 motions succeed one another in a single inch, and their motion is propagated with such incredible quickness that more than millions of millions of them affect the eye in a single second. Of the violet motions 57,500 are required to fill an inch, and 699 millions of millions impinge upon the eye in a second. The heat motions affect larger masses of the ether, rolling it, as it were, in larger waves, fewer of which are contained in a given space, or will strike the body in a given time. “The ethers and airs made active in masses produce heat, but modified in particulars they produce light.” The same is said of the spiritual atmospheres, as to their effects in the spiritual world: “Made active in generals they give heat, and modified in particulars they give light” (Apocalypse Explained #726). But at the other end of the spectrum, the motions of the chemical rays are still more minute and more rapid than those of violet light.

And what does the sunbeam accomplish with this intense and varied vitality? Imagine the earth deprived of the rays of the sun. If we can think of it as existing at all, we have a dead earth; the waters are hard and still as rock; the air itself is frozen to a case of stone; vegetable and animal life are gone; even mineral life is suspended; darkness, cold, and death prevail everywhere. Admit the sunbeams again, and the winds move, the waters flow and dance, the crystals busily pile their tiny masses, and verdure begins to clothe the earth, and to give nourishment to animals.

In a physical sense, the sunbeam gives life to the world; and, in the same physical sense, it is the creator of the world; that is, it is the natural means by which the Lord animates and forms the world. It is heat which is the life of the world, and it is light with its peculiar invisible extension of chemical power, which enables it to take form (Apocalypse Explained #1206).

  Consider the part which light performs in the growth of plants. Heat and moisture are sufficient to put in motion the substance of a seed or bulb; but cut off light from it entirely, and if there is not mere decay, and no growing form at all, the growth is at best only a feeble development of the materials for growth already laid up in the seed; there is no new material formed. Bring the seed to the light, and its pale, sickly expansion stops; it assimilates new food from the air and the earth; it spreads forth and multiplies new leaves tinged with healthy green and full of veins and pores and little vessels for useful work. It produces flowers of bright, glad colors, expressive of delight in the good work it can now accomplish; and finally perfects its seed or fruit which it offers for the food of men and beasts.  How the light builds up those marvelous forms we do not fully know. But it seems that the activity of its own particulars it communicates to the substances of the plant and to the materials which serve for its food, and the plant life avails itself of so much of that motion as is needful to effect the chemical and other modifications that belong to its growth. So that the forms of the growth of the plant are a part of the forms of motion of the light, made visible and interpreted to us.

The heat-giving power which the plant has when burnt or consumed as food is also the heat of the sunshine temporarily fixed and stored.  And apparently all its physical properties and powers are those of the sunshine, interpreted to us according to the nature of the plant.

Swedenborg says:

The sun of heaven is the Lord, the light there is Divine Truth, and the heat there is Divine Good, which proceed from the Lord as a sun. It is from that origin that all things proceed which exist and appear in heaven. (Heaven and Hell #117)

And further:

How immense, and of what nature, the Divine Love is, may be inferred from a comparison with the sun of this world. It is most ardent; and, if 266 PLANTS OF THE BIBLE you will believe it, it is much more ardent than this. (Heaven and Hell #120)

A glorious image, indeed, is the sun, even as we see it, with our present limited knowledge, its intense heat permeating the solar system, giving life and activity to every particle in it, which moves as if of its own energy, yet altogether from the sun; its light building everywhere beautiful natural forms, which seem to grow of themselves, yet can do nothing but with the forming activity of the light. A glorious image it is, and more glorious for every gain of knowledge about it, of that heavenly Sunbeam by which is everything heavenly made that is made, whose heat is the Divine Love, which gives every human mind the faculty of living and loving as of itself, yet always and only from the Lord, and whose light is the wisdom which gives form to every human thought and plan and purpose, in beauty and excellence according to the degree of wisdom which the mind receives, the man all the while seeming to think and plan and speak altogether from himself.

That love and wisdom are the heat and light of the mind is evident to the senses in the spiritual world; for “all celestial and spiritual heat, or love and charity, are perceived in an external form in heaven as something flamy from the sun, and all celestial and spiritual light. . . appears in an external form in heaven as light from the sun. . . . All good is from the heat which flows from the Lord as a sun, and all truth is from the light thence; and, further, all affections which are of love or good, are variations of that celestial and spiritual heat which is from the Lord, and thence are changes of state; and all thoughts which are of faith or truth, are variegations of that celestial and spiritual light which is from the Lord, and thence is intelligence. In this heat and light are all the angels who are in heaven, and their affections and thoughts are from no other source, and are nothing else” (Arcana Coelestia #3862).


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